Saturday, January 17, 2015

Opening a Can of Wormholes: Speaking to Your Children About the Future, As in Sci Fi

by Drew Martin
At a certain point in children’s lives, especially the teenage years, parents should sit down and talk to them about the future. I do not mean about higher education, choosing a career, marriage, buying a home, life insurance...etc. I mean they should talk to them about the future, as in science fiction.

Think of it as opening a can of wormholes. Parents will learn infinitely more about their kids' fantasies and their young, creative minds by exploring the science fiction genre than by asking run-of-the-mill questions that will only yield one-word answers or a shrug of their shoulders such as "How was school today? What did you learn today? What are you thinking about?"

Last night, as I was home with my three kids while my wife worked an evening shift, I asked my 14-year-old son (who answers everyone question with the word "ish") about time travel. To my surprise he launched into a very eloquent response about how in the future there will be one language, which will be shared by humans and computers; a special coding language that will replace the languages of our planet and existing computer languages.

Then I offered my own poor-man’s guide to time travel that I was contemplating earlier in the day, which led to the evening discussion. I mused that one way to time travel back in time is to show up an hour early for a party to which you were invited and you can see what the place is like before you are supposed to be there. Many of us have shown up early or arrived late for something but we are so embarrassed or miffed by the misstep that we do not take in the moment and look at it as a type of time travel. For a culture so interested in the idea of time travel it is interesting how militant we are about being on time and how being late or too early, being in the right (or wrong) place at the wrong time, and being born at the wrong century are all negative.